22:0082(8)AR - GSA Region 10 and AFGE Council 236 -- 1986 FLRAdec AR

[ v22 p82 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 22 FLRA No. 8
                                            Case No. 0-AR-1051
                         I.  STATEMENT OF THE CASE
    This matter is before the Authority on an exception to the award of
 Arbitrator M. Zane Lumbley filed by the Agency under section 7122(a) of
 the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and part 2425 of
 the Authority's Rules and Regulations.
    The dispute in this case was submitted to the Arbitrator pursuant to
 his continuing jurisdiction reserved in an earlier award concerning the
 appraisal of the performance of the grievant.  In that award the
 Arbitrator found that in appraising the grievant's performance for the
 period in dispute, the Activity had violated Article 19 of the parties'
 National Agreement which provides that the performance appraisal system,
 as applied, will be "fair, equitable, (and) reasonable." Pursuant to
 this finding the Arbitrator, in part, had ordered that the grievant be
 reappraised by management.  Accordingly, the Activity had reappraised
 the grievant and rated her overall as "highly successful." When the
 grievant disagreed with this rating, claiming that she deserved an
 overall rating of "outstanding," the continuing jurisdiction of the
 Arbitrator was invoked to resolve the issue of the propriety of her
 overall rating of "highly successful."
    The Arbitrator noted that under the parties' agreement, highly
 successful performance is defined as performance which "exceeds the
 performance standards for a given position 50% of the time or more" and
 outstanding performance is defined as performance which "exceeds the
 performance standards for a given position 85% of the time or more." The
 Arbitrator further noted that in her annual appraisal, the grievant was
 rated as exceeding the performance standards 50% of the time as to two
 of her job elements and as meeting the standards as to her other job
 element.  On review of this performance appraisal and the grievant's
 overall rating, the Arbitrator determined that the rating was arrived at
 arbitrarily.  Specifically, he ruled that there had not been a complete
 and reasonable review of all the factual information relating to the
 grievant's performance under the respective job elements as required by
 the agency handbook on the general performance appraisal system.  He
 further ruled that the appraisal contained numerous contradictions,
 misstatements of fact, assessments of fault which did not lie with the
 grievant, and references to performance occurring outside the period
 stipulated to and designated by the parties to serve as the basis for
 her appraisal for the two appraisal periods in question.  After
 discounting all of these components of the grievant's appraisal, the
 Arbitrator concluded that there was nothing in the appraisal of a
 negative nature and that consequently the grievant deserved and overall
 rating of "outstanding." Accordingly, as his compliance opinion and
 award, the Arbitrator ordered that the grievant be given a rating of
 "outstanding" for the two appraisal periods in question.
                              III.  EXCEPTION
    In its exception the Agency contends that the award is contrary to
 section 7106(a)(2)(A) and (B) of the Statute.  Specifically, the Agency
 argues that by supplanting management's assessment of the grievant's
 performance with his own evaluation, the Arbitrator contravened the
 principle enunciated by the Authority that an arbitrator may not
 substitute his or her judgment for that of management as to what an
 employee's performance evaluation and rating should be.  The Agency
 maintains that even if the Arbitrator effectively found that the
 performance standards had not been applied to the grievant fairly,
 equitably, and reasonably as required by the parties' agreement, there
 was no basis for the Arbitrator's conclusion that the grievant
 affirmatively met the standard necessary to achieve an outstanding
 rating.  In particular, the Agency maintains that the mere agreement by
 the Arbitrator with the Union's arguments disputing certain performance
 deficiencies contained in management's appraisal of the grievant's
 performance does not justify the Arbitrator's ruling that the grievant
 was entitled to have been rated "outstanding."
                       IV.  ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS
    In Social Security Administration, Office of Hearings and Appeals,
 Region II and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1760,
 21 FLRA No. 86 (1986), the Authority reviewed recent decisions
 discussing in detail the role of an arbitrator in resolving disputes
 pertaining to performance appraisal matters.  In these decisions the
 Authority had specifically advised that an arbitrator may resolve an
 employee's grievance claiming to have been adversely affected in his or
 her performance appraisal by management's application of the established
 performance standards.  The Authority had further advised that in
 resolving the grievance, the arbitrator properly may determine that
 management applied the established standards in violation of law,
 regulation, or an appropriate, nonquantitative review criterion, and the
 arbitrator to that extent may sustain the grievance.  The Authority also
 had stated that in sustaining the grievance, an arbitrator as a remedy
 may direct that the grievant's work product be properly evaluated by
 management or where appropriate that the grievant's work product as
 appraised by management be granted the rating to which entitled under
 the established elements and standards.  The Authority, however, had
 cautioned in these decisions that the arbitrator may not conduct an
 independent evaluation of an employee's performance under the elements
 and standards established by management and may not substitute his or
 her own judgment for that of management as to what that employee's
 evaluation and rating should be.  SSA, Office of Hearings and Appeals,
 slip op. at 4 (citing Bureau of Engraving and Printing, U.S. Department
 of the Treasury and Washington Plate Printers Union, Local No. 2, IPDEU,
 AFL-CIO, 20 FLRA No. 39 (1985);  Bureau of Prisons, Department of
 Justice and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 148, 21
 FLRA No. 15 (1986).
    Applying these decisions in SSA, Office of Hearings and Appeals, the
 Authority determined that the arbitrator was not authorized to determine
 that the grievant's case production would have been rated at least as
 "fully successful" but for the violation of the parties' collective
 bargaining agreement.  The Authority noted that management's appraisal
 of the grievant's numerical case production was based on the statistical
 determination of the grievant's average daily production and the rating
 of that production under the established standards.  The Authority found
 that this was not the type of appraisal that would permit an arbitrator
 in an objective, nondiscretionary, and essentially mechanistic mann